Monthly Archives: August 2007

Ang taray talaga ng lola…

“They called it a good news day, a day they allowed themselves to boast the “remarkable!” showing of our nation’s economy during the 2nd quarter of the year.” — Jove Francisco reports for ABC 5

The figures are remarkable indeed: GDP growth for the second quarter 2007 at 7.5 % and GNP at 8.3 %, bringing the country’s economic growth to 7.3 percent for first semester of the year. This is the fastest growth rate that country has achieved in 20 years, the President said, proudly adding that “ours is the only administration that has not experienced any negative growth in any quarter and it has been a six year administration!”

Here comes now the inevitable question: one reporter asked for the President’s comments to some observers’ reactions that the figures are “incredible” and “totoo ba ‘yan?”

The President’s reply: “Are you saying that the NSCB (National Statistical Coordination Board) people are liars?”


…cough, cough…

Umm, maybe not the NSCB people, but isn’t there a book about lying and statistics? That was such a precious quip from the President of the republic.

Head over to Jove’s blog for the behind the scenes and the video clip.

And another thing: when discussing growth figures, stock market rallies, and other economic gains, the question is always that are the gains “trickling down” to the poor or to the masses? The phrasing in itself is sad, really. It just underscores the top to bottom approach to development, and that it’s always those on top who gets the windfall just as always, and the masses will just have to hope that something “trickles down” to them. Thus the preoccupation towards getting foreign investments for large-scale projects at all costs.

On the other hand, I came across something by economist Sixto K. Roxas, on what he termed “community-centered capitalism.”

“We chose this term because competitive markets and private ownership of capital are foundations of our model but with a substantial difference. Unlike more conventional market-oriented models, households and communities are the central players in our system. Their net incomes and net worth, rather than enterprise profits and capital, are the key indicators of economic performance. The underlying principle is that economic development should increase the returns to households from the sustainable use of the ecological resources of their bio-region.”

“In a community-centered economics we think of a human community or settlement and its inter-related ecosystem as a holistic unit of organization for the production and consumption of goods to meet the community’s current needs, and for the preservation and enhancement of the settlement’s present and future productive capacity. Economic development occurs when the community’s capacity for increased future economic output, including the sustainable output of its natural resources and ecological capital, is increased.”

I won’t pretend to understand all this in-depth, but really, that sounds so much better than the usual discussions and projections on GDP and GNP growth.


A Taste of Binondo

“Nibbling our way through Chinatown: Four hundred years of history and up to four hours of decadence!” says the promotional material for Ivan Man Dy’s “Binondo Food Wok.” Indeed, Binondo has such a long and rich history that its story is inextricably tied with that of the country.

Binondo, according to Nick Joaquin in his book Manila, My Manila, was “a process to absorb the Chinese into Philippine culture.” It was formally established in the mid-1650’s through a land grant given to the Christianized Chinese. Before Binondo, Manila’s Chinese community was confined to ghettoes locally known as the “Parian.” The Parian was vital because it supplied the city with silks, porcelains, lacquered furniture, food products, as well as every kind of artist or craftsman. The Chinese, however, were persecuted at various points of history, as authorities get alarmed over their swelling numbers. With the creation of Binondo, a new Chinese community arose – the Chinese mestizaje – that was distinct from the Parian, with its residents increasingly identifying themselves with the native indios.

Or, as Ivan put it, Binondo was where they put the Chinese who were “well-behaved.” Still, Ivan continued, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Binondo was established just across the river from the walled city of Intramuros, “just within range of the city’s cannons.”

With such tongue-in-cheek quips Ivan peppered his spiels as we wove through the streets of Binondo. He made history sound as palatable as the Chinese dishes that the walk featured. Arrayed in a Chinese red silk blouse and traditional Chinese hat, he also carried a small Philippine flag that he used to wave at passing traffic to get us across the streets. He looked the very picture of the Chinese-Filipino integration that is Binondo.

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that rare long weekend trip, part 3 of 3

It seemed that I never had enough time to really sit down and compose this last part, but still I knew that I would have to get around to it sometime, and not miss out on blogging about the Twin Lakes, if only to post the pictures.

First the basics: the forests around the Twin Lakes in southern Negros Oriental constitute part of the island’s last remaining healthy forests, with the other major forest patches located way up north in Mt. Kanlaon and Mt. Silay (much of the island’s other greenery are of course made up of sugar plantations). The Twin Lakes, Lake Balinsasayao and the smaller Lake Danao, are “two small crater lakes separated by a narrow mountain ridge, and situated in a hollow between four mountains, Mt. Mahungot to the south, Mt. Kalbasan to the north, Mt. Balinsasayao to the east and Mt Guidabon to the west. Lake Balinsasayao lies to the north-west of the ridge and Lake Danao to the south-east.” (Key Conservation Sites in the Philippines, Haribon Foundation, 2001)

The lakes are located in the town of Sibulan, Negros Oriental, which we reached via a half-hour or so jeepney ride from Dumaguete City. For the 14.5 km ride up to the mountains, we engaged a habal-habal, or a motorcycle for hire. Not a very safe-looking option, as advised by Dominique, but then again we didn’t mind being a bit reckless especially on a shoestring budget. It was just a matter of hanging on and trying not to move too much as the driver negotiated the long, twisting, now-its-concrete-now-its-not road up the mountain. Anti-climactically, the engine failed some distance from the lakes, forcing us to walk the rest of the way. We paid our driver for the one-way rate and watched him free-wheel his way back down, wondering how we were going to get back to civilization. The driver did not seem to be too worried, saying that there are a lot of habal-habals making trips to and fro, and promising to send one to pick us up at an appointed time. Well then. It’s not as if we could do anything about it. It was such a “bahala na” moment.

The walk to reach the lakes was excruciating to say the least, because by that time I had spent the past three days swimming, caving, hiking and rowing, and my sorely under-exercised muscles were screaming with every step. I knew, however, that a scene of great beauty would be greeting me at the end of it, and of course I was not disappointed.

In more descriptive words: It was green. It was all green, and it was beautiful.

happy to be here

We didn’t have time to swim or go boating in the lake because we thought we still had time to rush over to Casaroro Falls before catching our flight back that afternoon (a stupid, naïve idea, as we learned when we asked around later), but it was just enough sitting or walking around drinking in the beauty of the place.

They say that the bottom of the lake has never been reached, and nobody really knows how deep it is (Come to think of it, you rarely hear of dive expeditions down freshwater lakes). I hope the place stays as unspoiled and as beautiful as it is.

And yes, we did manage to get a habal-habal ride back to town.

that rare long weekend, part 1

that rare long weekend, part 2

matuloy kaya?

Short-term goal: Binondo Food Wok on Saturday

Medium-term goal: Verde or Capones Island on Halloween weekend

Long-term goal: Batanes on Holy Week (oo long-term goal na yan, nya ha)

The long weekends are hard-fought battles to restore a semblance of work-life balance. Wish me luck!



yes you may rain but can you not get me wet?

walking along buendia avenue this morning, jeans sodding wet, skirting puddles, cursing the whole of pasong tamo for turning into a river at the slightest downpour, trying to figure out the shortest way to rufino, one has got to wonder why, on days like these, one bothers to get up at all.

can’t i just stay curled up in bed and cheer on the long-awaited rains?

no, of course i can’t. just wondering, that’s all. i mean, you’ve got to be a pretty well-adjusted person to be able to not rant while your jeans are sodding wet, and i’m definitely not a well-adjusted person.